Mark Philippoussis has opened up on the lowest moment of his tennis career, revealing his shame that he couldn't provide for his family.
The Aussie tennis great made nearly $7 million in prize money throughout his career on the court, reaching two grand slam finals and soaring as high as World No.8.
However the 44-year-old hit rock bottom when his sixth knee surgery put him on the sidelines for months, and the time he spent off the court had a massive effect on his family.
Opening up on Tuesday night's episode of SAS Australia, Philippoussis said he felt like he was letting his family down after they'd sacrificed so much for him.
“Family’s my world. It’s my priority. My everything. I had a dream to become a professional tennis player and my family put everything on the line,” Philippoussis said.
“My father had a good job in the bank business and quit because he said he wanted to help me fulfil my dreams - so he let go of his dreams and I worked very hard and I was lucky enough to fulfil my dreams.
“And the good news was that I could take care of my family so they don’t have to work again. My father or mother didn’t have to work. But I’ve gone into a tough situation with injuries where everything stopped.
“When you’re an athlete, the last thing you want to think about … They always say, ‘Save for a rainy day’. And I feel like you’re weak if you feel like you might get injured and you have to have something to back up to - that’s a sign of weakness.
“You can’t think that way because you’ve got to keep going, you’ve got to get back from injuries and you’re going to be OK.”
Mark Philippoussis says he felt 'ashamed'
Philippoussis said he was so broke at one stage that he had to ask friends to help out with food and groceries.
“I was out for a few months. I couldn’t afford much, actually. I had to ask friends just to shop for food,” he said.
“We would always, just, for seven days in a row we’d have this cabbage pasta that ends up being one of my favourites but my mum calls it ‘poor people’s food’ because it’s so simple, it’s just cabbage with some spices and pasta.
“I felt very much ashamed because they gave their dream for me and my responsibility was to look after them. I was in a dark place and had depression.
"There’s no greater pain in my heart than watching my loved ones suffer because of my actions.”
Earlier in the season, Philippoussis opened up about his "ridiculous" lifestyle while at the peak of his career, revealing he'd spend money just out of boredom.
“I was changing my cars because I would get bored, or I’d watch this new movie, Bad Boys, [and go] ‘Oh my god they’ve got the new Porsche turbo’ and call up my agent, ‘Find me the new Porsche turbo’. That’s how ridiculous it was,” he said.
“So, the prize money doesn’t make you happier but it ends up becoming the new norm.
"Sometimes now I just shake my head and laugh and go, ‘What an idiot’.”
in 2003, Philippoussis famously paid $100,000 for a Dodge Viper because he didn’t want to get a taxi home, only to sell it the very next day.
Philippoussis married Silvana Lovin in 2013. They have two children together.
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